Bucket List Destination: The Galapagos Islands
Written on February 18, 2021
Fourth in a series: Our Team’s Dream Destinations
Located approximately 605 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands of the Pacific Ocean fascinate nature lovers and ecotourists alike. The island group consists of 18 main islands, 3 smaller islands, and 107 islets. Two airports serve locals and tourists, who often arrive by plane to embark on one of the small ships that explore the region.
Each island in the Galapagos has its trademarks, and travelers should consider which landscapes, activities, and wildlife are their personal must-dos. Some of the most popular islands for tourists include Santa Cruz, Bartolome, San Cristobal, and Espanola.
Best Time to Travel?
Because of its location on the equator, the Galapagos are a year-round destination with two distinct seasons. December through May is the most popular time to visit (with peak tourism between mid-December and mid-January) because days are sunny and warm with stable weather conditions. Short bursts of rain showers are common during this time, but are only temporarily disruptive. The months of May through November feature overcast skies and cooler temperatures, with rainfall still permeating the islands.
The government limits the number of tourists permitted to the islands, so advance planning is important for this destination.
The abundant wildlife and scenic volcanic landscapes unique to the Galapagos Islands offer unparalleled experiences in nature.
Who Might Add This to Their Travel Bucket List?
Travelers who enjoy ecotourism, wildlife, and memorable experiences in nature will delight in the wonders of the Galapagos Islands. Outdoorsy types who enjoy a day full of hiking, snorkeling, and exploring will feel right at home in this destination.
Cruisers who have sailed more traditional itineraries might enjoy the unique experience of small ship Galapagos cruising.
Bucket List Experiences
Explore the Charles Darwin Research Station: On Santa Cruz, a team of dedicated professionals manage their conservation, restoration, and sustainable development efforts from the offices and labs of the Charles Darwin Research Station. The public can tour the exhibition hall, public library, and native gardens to learn about species found on the islands. The giant tortoises bred by the center wander the grounds.
Birdwatch at Cerro Brujo: Birdwatchers won’t want to miss a dinghy ride and hike to Cerro Brujo on San Cristobal Island. A variety of migratory birds, including black-necked stilts, Ruddy turnstones, whimbrels, and sandpipers, flock to this island lagoon. Relaxing on the beach and snorkeling are also popular activities here.
Spot albatross nests: Española Island is the only location where the majestic Galapagos Albatross nests, making this island a can’t-miss destination for bird enthusiasts. The rocky hike is challenging, but when visiting between December and May, the sight of approximately 20,000 albatross pairs is well worth it! Adult albatross have a wingspan of 8 feet, making them the largest bird on the island and truly a sight to behold.
Snorkel with Hammerhead Sharks: Snorkeling experiences are incredible throughout the Galapagos Islands, and the opportunity to view hammerhead sharks from the water’s surface is a memory that will last a lifetime. Enjoy this experience at Kicker Rock, located on Bartolome Island.
Visit Sierra Negra Volcano: On Isabela Island, visitors can climb and explore the Sierra Negra Volcano independently or with a guided tour. The unique terrain, picturesque views, and the opportunity to glimpse Darwin’s finches are the highlights of this unforgettable experience.
From glimmering ocean waters teeming with sea creatures, to lush landscapes and the blue skies above dotted with native birds, the Galapagos Islands are truly a wonder and deserving of a spot on many travelers’ bucket lists.
How to Travel:
Galapagos cruises are a popular and easy way to visit several islands within the chain, maximizing sightseeing time at the beaches and trails. Our team works with preferred suppliers to help clients plan their visit to the Galapagos Islands. If you’re interested in learning more about this destination, contact us!
For further reading:
Travel + Leisure:
Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting the Galapagos Islands